Canada announced Wednesday that it was suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority because the new Hamas-led government refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel. Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement that Canada therefore had no choice but to suspend assistance to the authority and decline contact with the new Hamas Cabinet. Canada is the first country after Israel to formally cut assistance to the Palestinian Authority and other nations were expected to follow suit. With Hamas now at the helm, the cash-strapped Palestinian government faces a crippling international economic boycott, However, Ottawa emphasized Wednesday that it would continue giving humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people through UN and nongovernment organizations. Canada, like the United States, Europe and Israel, considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Ottawa has said, however, the Palestinian people should not be penalized over the actions of the group and currently provides some $22 million in annual humanitarian aid through various United Nations and non-governmental agencies.